The only Islanders goal that counted on Sunday was put in by a Hurricane, when Jaccob Slavin accidentally tipped Mathew Barzal’s pass attempt into the Carolina net.
But the Islanders had many chances to score goals on their own. Many, many chances. They converted none, resulting in a 2-1 loss and 2-0 deficit in the teams’ second-round playoff series.
“That’s the cruel reality,” coach Barry Trotz said. “Sometimes you play really well and don’t get the result.”
Said Josh Bailey, “That’s just the way it goes sometimes. I think in the end those things usually even themselves out, so we’ll get our bounces, too.”
They had better, because they need four wins in their next five games to advance.
In the first period on Sunday at Barclays Center, there were many missed opportunities, several by Anthony Beauvillier.
In the second, Scott Mayfield had backup goalie Curtis McElhinney in an impossible predicament, but he mishit his shot and it resulted in a harmless right pad save.
Later in the second, it appeared the Islanders had taken a 2-0 lead, but Devon Toews’ apparent goal was ruled no goal because it got past McElhinney with the help of a kicking motion from Toews’ right skate.
But the most maddening period was the third. Jordan Eberle hit the crossbar. Then Ryan Pulock hit the crossbar and Anders Lee’s followup attempt hit the post and/or the side of the net.
The Islanders mostly had the better of the play between two teams known for their defense, other than the 48 seconds during which the Hurricanes scored two early third-period goals.
“There were chances,” Matt Martin said. “In terms of changing the way we’re playing, that’s not the answer. We’re playing to our identity, like we did for most of the night. We just have to find a way to bury our chances when we have them . . . We just have to find a way to find the back of the net and once that happens, we’ll be all right.”
Said Pulock, “We had plenty of opportunities at the end to get one and it was close, but it wasn’t enough . . . He made some good saves but we hit three, four bars.”
Trotz likes to call hockey’s random mysteries the “unseen hand.” In the first round against the Penguins, it helped wave the Islanders through. For now against Carolina, it is holding up a stop sign.